Pilon fracture

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A pilon fracture is an injury where the tibia near the ankle joint is damaged into one or several pieces. The damage is mainly caused by the axial forces on the tibia that can crush the ankle bones.

In most cases, the injury is brought about by high-velocity impact during sports, falls from a great height or vehicular accidents.

What are the indications?

If an individual is suspected with a pilon fracture, the usual indications that might arise include the following:

  • Abrupt, intense pain at the site of the injury
  • Evident swelling
  • Tenderness upon touch
  • Bruising
  • Unusual deformity of the ankle
  • Inability to support or bear any weight on the foot

Management of a pilon fracture

Pilon fracture
Pain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be given to manage a pilon fracture by reducing the pain and swelling.

In most cases, a pilon fracture necessitates surgical intervention. Nevertheless, the injury can also be managed conservatively.

The conservative measures for managing a pilon fracture typically include:

  • Avoid any activities that can aggravate the injury. The individual is instructed is refrain from any physical activities until the symptoms have settled.
  • Apply a cold compress or ice pack on the affected ankle to lessen the swelling and pain.
  • Pain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be given to manage a pilon fracture by reducing the pain and swelling.

In case the conservative measures are not effective, surgery might be the only option. If surgery is opted, open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is performed.


A pilon fracture can be prevented by observing precautionary measures when engaging in physical activities such as sports or even some daily activities.

  • Those who engage in contact or high-risk sports must use the appropriate safety equipment and gear to prevent injuries.
  • A diet that is rich in calcium can help buildup bone strength. Even after a pilon fracture, a calcium-rich diet is suggested.
  • Perform weight-bearing exercises to strengthen the bones.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a pilon fracture is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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